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By - Alice Wohrer, Part I
From The
North Vernon Plain Dealer - July 19, 1923

    Our first settlers were Kentuckians who had come originally from Virginia and North Caroline, New York and Pennsylvania. The first settlement seems to have been on the Muscatatuck. In 1817 Basil Meek and some ten or twelve relatives of the same name all from Pulaski County Kentucky, Jacob McCurry, Noah Sullivan, James Kellar, John Boner, Thomas Richie, Delancy Marvin, James Green and soon Amasa Spencer from Somerset County Kentucky and the Fitzgeralds came and settled in the southeast corner of the township near what is known as the Sullivan's Ford. Aout this time Thomas Robin of Kentucky came and settled several miles west of the Meeks' but being isolated he was bothered by Indians, his stock stolen and his life endangered. He took his family back as far as Clark County, Indiana and stayed until this part was more settled when he came back with about ten other families by the name of Robbins. By this time the state had bought the second tract of land and the Indians were moved from the county. Thomas Robin's farm was just south of the Henry Nordloe farm in section 27.
    North of the Muscatatuck settlement on Six Mile homes were made by Peleg Baker, Jonothan Davis, Soloman Eastman, Willard Baily, Wm. Baker and John B. Potter. Near the center of the township were Hardenburg-now Hayden, later was formed, the Woodsons, Ebenezer Buntin and others settled. West of these in what later became the Downs neighborhood were the Asches, Sawyers and Troyers.
    All these settlers had to go to Vernon to vote, to trade, get the mail and news. There was not much mail, no daily papers, but once in awhile a letter. These letters were written on one side of the paper, folded with clean side out for an envelope, sealed with wax directed and marked by postmaster "25 cents paid."
Township Formed
    Early in 1833 a meeting was held and after due deliberation it was agreed to petition the court for a separate township to be called Spence in honor of Amasa Spencer colonel of militia company he had formed in a field or meadow on Muscatatuck, now belonging to Chas. Woodard. John Childs was commissioned to present the petition at the next term of court, May 1st, 1833. Petition granted. Boundary fixed and election ordered for first Saturday in June. The election was held in the Union Baptist church to elect a Justice of the Peace. As near as could be found the first Justice was Augustus P. Chase as the records show him acting at an early date.
    The following bounds were set for the new township, to wit: Beginning where the Coffee Creek road crosses the Montgomery township line, thence with said road North to Chase's lane, thence to Six Mile Creek at the lower end of Chas. Griffith's farm, thence west to the Geneva township line, thence with said line to the Jackson County line thence south to the Montgomery township line, thence east on said line to the place of beginning.
    This line has since changed and now east line is straight as a part of the township was given to Vernon Township in 1845, the south line now being the Muscatatuck. Now Spencer is bouond on the north by Geneva township, west by Jackson County, south by Marion and Lovett townships and east by Vernon and Center townships.
    In 1833 each township was given the privilege of holding its own elections, but as many went to the county seat to vote the order was given that each township must hold its own elections.
    The church building in which the first township election was held was built by a Baptist organization consisting of twelve members and known as the Union Baptist Church organized on the first Saturday in February 1821. The following was copied from the original church book. "We a few Baptists living in the State of Indiana namely, Bazil Meek, Peleg Baker, Noah Sullivan, Joseph Meek, Wm. Baker, Jesse Cox, John B. Potter, Nancy Baker, Eleanor Meek, Jane Potter, Sally Baker, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, being regularly dismissed from the Vernon Church and being sensible of the advantages of church privileges and gospel ordinances do agree to give ourselves by the will of God to God and to one another according to the new testament, rules and regulations, also to watch over one another in love, bor the benefit of the church of God and glory of the religious cause of God."
    At first meeting were held in the homes of members but in 1823 the June meeting was held in a new hewed log house located up on Six Mile hill. It was used as a voting place until 1837 when a new log house was built farther west just south of the present site of Hayden. This building was used as a school and church until 1884 a brick building was erected across the road on land owned by Joseph Ewan (An embric town sprang up at each of these church buildings known as Union, Six Mile, and Cross Roads). This building was used for years when it became too small for the congregation so a second brick was built in 1858 which is the present home of the congregation in Hayden. The brick of the old building was used with additional brick made by Hamilton Marrison. Among the carpenters who worked on this building was a man from Seymour who was well liked by every one because of his good nature and singing propensities. One Monday he faild to show up after going home Saturday. It was learned afterward that he was a member of the Reno Brothers' gang that was hanged by enraged citizens of Seymour after numerous robberies including a notorious train robbery. The church reports from 1821 to 1868 have been preserved in one book and make very interesting reading showing the close relation of the church to the daily life of the members in contract with the seeming isolation of the present day. The records are lost until 1873 when the present record begins. Most of the members who formed the original congregation withdrew about the time of the second church building and formed a new organization known as the Zion church across the Muscatatuck. There is no record of the organization of the Methodist Church but we know there were Methodist here and that they held meetings early in the history of the township Circuit Riders like Peter Cartwright would go through the neighborhood and preach at different homes. Later they held services in the Baptist church alternating Sundays. Their present building was dedicated November 10th, 1878 and now has a prosperous congregation.
    Catholics settled in this part of the country at an early date the priest at Madison visited them at long intervals until in 1841 about twenty Irish and seven German families, of whom the principal promoters were Andrew David and John Wagner, erected a log church near Sullivan Ford in 1846 the Rev. Daniel Malony paid the new congregation regular visits once a month. He resided at Scipio. In 1849 a frame structure was erected which was abandoned in 1871 and later a chapel was built which still stands surrounded by a cemetery in which many of the pioneer Catholics Jennings County are buried. Thia church was called St. Catherine and is the mother church of St. James which was located at Four Corners and is now called St. Joseph. This church is identical with the mother church and the first building was erected in 1850. In 1890 plans were made for a new building which resulted in the present structure 85x39 which now stands on forty acres of ground owned by the parish, in 1907 a small school building was built near the church and 1915 a parsonage.
    Our first roads were Indian trails through the forests. The most important of these was the trail from Sunman to Brownstown which ran through Vernon. Fancy the Red man toting his wares from post to post along this trail-It became the thoroughfare known as the Brownstown road and is now State Road No. 4. Another quite important trail ran from Batesville to Rockford, passing near Kellar's in Sand Creek township and touching the Brownstown road east of Hayden. It was identical with the former trail from this point to Hayden when it goes due west to Rockford. It is now called the Rockford road. A trail crossed these diagonally, joining the Brownstown road at the old Union Baptist church juat south of Hayden, then went in a generally northwesterly direction to about the west central part of Geneva township where it crossed Sand Creek at a point which touches the three counties of Jackson, Jennings, and Bartholomew. A trail from Paris Crossing passed through east of Hayden and toward what is now Scipio. Where it crossed Six Mile. Jesse Whitcomb settled about 1850. He was appointed by Gov. Jennings as one of the first Associated Judges of the county. He was also the first one to get a Government Commission as Postmaster in 1837 receiving the mail from Joe Ewan who went to Vernon for it on horseback. Mr. Ewan went to Sullivan's Ford where he also left mail at John Sullivan's store. Mr. Ewan then came over the Paris Crossing trail to Whitcomb's house who kept it in a half bushel measure until called for.
    All these trails except the diagonal one which has almost entirely disappeared, are now important roads having been improved and straightened. At one time the Brownstown road between Hayden and North Vernon was a toll road, everyone paying a fee to ride over a stone road. The toll house still stands just east of Hayden but no pole is raised or lowered for a fee. Of course as time went on roads were built on every sectional line. Improvements on these roads were made by the citizens under the direction officers called Road Supervisors. These men were elected at mass meetings generaly held at schoolhouses. One of these supervisors, Sam Sutton, was an enthusiastic road man. He studied road making thoroughly, obtaining books and pamphlets telling of road of all counties. He especially loved to talk of the beautiful, broad roads of France with their fringe of fruit trees.

By - Alice Wohrer, Part II
From The
North Vernon Plain Dealer - July 26, 1923

Later Settlers
    From 1830 our township settled fast, and soon all the land was entered. A large family of Whitcombs came from New York. They lived on Six Mile east of Hayden. Joel Baker in 1832 took up the place now known as the Kendrick farm. Henry entered a part of section 34 and 35 which he sold to Titus Heaton. There were Mullens, Stanhope, Sprouts, and Justices, Doughtys, Days and Wilders northeast of Hayden. In the north west corner of the township were the Akins and later the Ringers, and just south of these Fred C. Wphrer. Several families of Downs from Ohio took the Asches, Sawyers and Trovers places in the sourth west part.
    In 1852 a survey was made for the O. and M. R. R. now called the B. & O. S. W. R. R. the next year the way was graded, work being done mostly by Irish who lived in shanties being built along the way as the work progressed. These men worked diligently through the week but Saturday night was their own and they spent it in drinking carousing, and often in quarreling. While making the fill about two miles west of Hayden an Irishman failed to appear for work on Monday morning and nothing definite was ever known of his fate but it was rumored that he had been killed in a drunken brawl and his body buried in the fill. Another sotry is told of the way in which these men procured their beef. It is said that an animal would be put in a lot near the shanties and several men with clubs would chase it about the lot beating it. When the flesh was well beaten the animal was killed. We now think what fright and pain would have poisoned the meat, and for other reasons would not submit an animal to such treatment. In 1852 the ties and rails were laid and in 1854 the trains began to run.
Site for Town
    There was much dispute as to where the town would be laid out. One idea was to place the town where the Paris Road crossed the railroad and call it Whitcomb. Another was to take the Wheeler farm west of the present site. But the company accepted the Joe Ewan farm between these two places and called the town Hardenburg in honor of one of the R. R. Officials. J. P. Swarthout was the first man to build a house and it was situated on the lot now owned by Joe Barnhart-in about 1854. He acted as the first agent for the road and as the third postmaster for the township. Some of the activities which later helped to build up the little town town and which are now history were wagon, carriage and buggy making, a cabinet shop, coopering, cradle making, hayforks made entirely of hickory, scythe snaths of ash, the pressing of hay, and shingle cutting and the then everpresent saloon. In 1889 the name of the town was changed from Hardenburg to Hayden, this name being chosen because at the time a great deal of hay was shipped from the community. In 1890 the name of the postoffice was changed from Six Mile to Hayden also.
    Schools were introduced early, being held in different homes until log houses were buikt. One door, one window, a large fireplace, puncheon floors, seats and writing desk, and a hickory broom are memories of these long departed centers of lickin and larnin. The school term was often only three months in the year and the teachers as often as not were men who were traveling west and wished to remain in the neighborhood awhile. Charles Whitcomb who now lives in New Mexico and is in his 94th year tells of one of these teachers bringing a 2 x 4 blackboard with him and installing it upon the walls of a schoolbuilding near what is known as the Chase. The children were delighted and went home at noon full of the new found treasure. The district director came back with his children and ordered the board taken down as it would distract the children's minds from their books. It was taken down. This is a far cry from our present school system with its consolidated commissioned High School in a twelve room brick building at Hayden.
    Beside the teachers and curcuit riders there were the traveling tinkers who fixed clocks and anything needing repairs about the farm. The more modern umbrells mender was the last of these wayfarers. The last of the tinkers is no doubt remembered as he passed away only two years ago-John Lynch. Traveling doctors came too, with their lance, pills and salves. Grandmothers laughingly tell of these doctors calling and announcing"Be-est anyone sick in this house, I be-est the doctor." Woe to the luckless, as he was sure to be bled. The first resident doctor was Samuel Charlton of the Old School. An eclectic Dr. Force, came next and was followed by a number of good men of the profession.
    The singing of hymns in church was the first public music. At this time the singers met at the homes and made a business of learning the songs carefully. At first the tunes were learned by note, then numerals were used to represent the tones of the scales and this form was followed by what is known as the buckwheat signs. About the time of the Civil War the notes as we have them were introduced. I recollect these song meetings which were the forerunners of the singing schools. Many times those who loved to sign came to our home, sat on boards laid on boxes or nail kegs after the chairs were filled Uncle Billy Whitcomb often played a flute and J. P. Swarthout a flagolet. [flageolet: A small flutelike instrument with a cylindrical mouthpiece, four finger holes} Sometimes an accordian was used but never the violin with hymns, although there were a number in the vicinity. About 1870 a Mr. Whitsett held the first singing school in the new two story brick school house. Then came in order the melodian, piano and parlor organ. Mrs. Henrietta Eliott now of North Vernon had the first piano which was brought into the township. Then came the band instruments. Hayden is proud of a fine hand during the days of a fine band during the days of Hudson, the Kendricks, Whitcombs, Beatys and Darringer, and others.
Other Amusements
    One of the amusements was "Ye Ole Spellin Skule" Another the Debating and Literary society. Many a tale I heard of the rivalry engaged and merriment at these places. In that day it was a great honor to be a good speller, profound debator, essayist and declaimer. And as a little girl I enjoyed watching the many courtships that had their beginnings at these various meetings. A great debator was Porter Swarthout who was lawyer, stockman and merchant. His brother Aaron was a talker too. Dr. Yost was another debator, physician and surgeon. Henry C. Bruner was squire, druggest, and interpreter for many of the early German settlers, took part in these debates.
School Amusements
    Town ball was a favorite game in the early 60's among the older pupils. [TOWN BALL : Town Ball is a direct descendant of the British game of rounders. It was played in the United States as far back as the early 1800's and is considered a stepping stone towards modern baseball.] The old time games of Fox and Geese, I Spy, Andy Over, Frog in the Meadow, Drop the Handkerchief, Ringaround the Rosy, Blind Man's Bluff, London Bridge, Mumble Peg, and Horseshoe. With the older people it was Horseshoe, Chess, Checkers and Playing Cards.
    Base ball is the direct of town ball and developed in later years along with basket ball and foot ball. Spencer township boasts of her many ball players among them being the six Daringer boys the Moore boys who live here Mike Simons and Ray and Will Ryan.
    Reminicencees of the Civil war are still rehearsed, the call to arms the enlisting, leave-taking, letters home, news of battle, the sick and wounded the furloughs home, the dash on a detachment of Morgan's men through the center of the township. Once a number of our boys were returning to camp after a furlough and a supper and dance was given in their, by the whole community. A table seating several hundred was arranged in Henry Bruner's yard. Men went into the woods and cut down trees, planted them on each side of this long table and drew the tops together forming a canopy or bower. Supper was eaten at 6:00 o'clock then young couples promenaded until time for the dance which was held in the old O. & M. station in the center of town. It has been said that Spencer Township sent more soldiers to the war than any other in the county. Mrs. Kate Day, Jesse Heaton, Joe Ewan, Joe Barnhart and George Shafer have aided me in getting a good list-200 so far. Those still living in the township and getting taxexemption of $1000 are Jesse Heaton, Wm. Woodson, Joe Ewan, Chas Deitchman and John Buchanan.
Mode of Travel
    And now as I close a few words might be said about the mode of travel in pioneer days. Families were moved here in covered wagons pulled by horses or yoke of oxen. Some came horseback with quite a load tied in bundles. Rich were they who could bring their clock, spinning wheels and bedding. Charles Whitcomb who was mentioned before tells how his mother came through from New York on horseback. A large basket was fastened to both sides of the saddle and a child -he for one- carried in each, a six months baby in her lap. He laughingly says that none of them were liver bound when they got here. One incident of the day of the ox-cart has always stayed with me. Ethan Day came for us to go to his house visiting. The day passed swiftly and in the evening we started home. At the foot f a hill was a pond of water where the oxen had often quenched their thurst and as soon as they saw the water they left the road and start for it. The cart struck a stump, turned us over, almost killing Sara Day. My head struck Mrs. Simmon's in the side and broke three of her ribs, and every one was badly shaken up but the cart was righted and we all got home.
    Think of the change from the ox-cart, big wagon, carriage, buggy, to the auto and flying machine.

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